What's Up Kandy

It is August and Kandy is bustling like the centre of the world; languages from across the globe mingle in an exciting babel in the thronging streets with their faded British colonial grandeur.
The picturesque Kandy lake
Lankatilaka Temple
Gadaladeniya Temple
Embekke Devalaya
James Taylor’s log cabin at Loolecondera Estate
Udawatta Kele Sanctuar
 Kandy National Museum
By Time Out editors |

The citadel that was the last bastion of the Sri Lankan monarchy is a hub of activity and cultural splendour. Apart from the perahera, the hill capital offers much excitement to the explorer.

The array of eateries within Kandy city is certainly amazing. These range from the elegant contemporary restaurants to quirky vintage cafes, fast food eateries and modest establishments where you will indeed unearth savoury culinary gems (See Kandy & Central). The Kandy City Centre at the heart of the citadel, with its retail outlets, multi-cuisine dining, play area and bowling and gaming arcade is the place to shop, dine or spend a leisurly time. (See Shopping).

Apart from the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, in the outskirts of Kandy are three temples, which reflect the spiritual beauty of late medieval Sri Lankan culture. Embekke Devalaya, a shrine dedicated to god Kataragama, whose most fascinating feature is formed by the timber carvings on the square pillars that hold up its pavilion. 514 very exquisite stylised panels deftly carved are some of the best carvings in the medieval world. The Gadaladeniya Temple has a pot-shaped stupa with an iconic conical roof, built on a tall stage, and is flanked by four smaller stupas. The Lankatilaka Temple has a central building that looms on a rocky plateau, resembling a South Indian shrine with elephants, lions and dragons. These provide a glimpses into the enigmatic tapestry of local culture and beliefs.

Start ascending from Kandy to Hewaheta and you arrive at the misty Loolecondera Estate. Here the Scotsman James Taylor planted the first tea seeds in Ceylon, which later spread speedily on to the neighbouring hills and beyond. You will stop with reverence before Taylor’s fireplace, all that remains of his cottage, raising its head like a tribute to his memory, while basking in the splendour of this monumental and scenic hillscape. Kandy has plenty of activities to keep you busy. You can take a walk around the Kandy Lake, admiring how it mirrors the city and the pelicans that float pensively; enjoying the shade and royal dignity of the surroundings. Or trek into the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary, a haven of endemic birds and green darkness where within a few minutes from Kandy city, you are lost in solitary nature. A foray into the city’s national museum will reconstruct for you the old kingdom in all its grandeur.

It is a treasure trove of breathtakingly priceless objects and intriguing artefacts.

More to explore